The Orioles have spent their first 83 games of 2012 getting contributions from players Dan Duquette snatched from the scrap heap of Major League baseball. The list of names is longer, perhaps, than it is impressive: Steve Tolleson, Bill Hall, Stu Pommeranz, Nick Johnson, Ronny Paulino. Friday night, two other chunks of coal-turned Duquette diamonds gave the Orioles a huge win over the Angels.
Miguel Gonzalez made his first major league start, and shut down one of baseball’s most impressive lineups through seven innings. Gonzalez threw exactly 100 pitches, 66 for strikes. He surrendered just 3 hits, one of which was Mark Trumbo’s 21st home run. Gonzalez walked just two, and struck out six. He also provided some rest for a bullpen that was called on to work 5.1 innings Thursday.
As dominant as his performance was, Gonzalez found himself on the short end of a 1-0 score after Trumbo’s homer with two outs in the fourth. In the fifth, Angels starter CJ Wilson (L, 9-5) gave up a leadoff single to Wilson Betemit, then walked Mark Reynolds. Up stepped another Dan Duquette salvage yard special, Steve Pearce. Pearce turned on a 3-2, 91MPH, thigh-high fastball in, and deposited it into the seats down the left field line for a 3-run homer, his third of the year.
The score was still 3-1 Orioles when Darren O’Day came on for Gonzalez in the eighth. O’Day retired the first two he faced, then gave up a home run to the Angels’ sensational rookie Mike Trout (11), closing the gap to 3-2. Three pitches later, Torii Hunter tripled. Buck Showalter decided to roll the dice a bit, having O’Day intentionally walk Albert Pujols, the would-be go ahead run, to face Kendrys Morales. O’Day was yanked, and replaced by lefty Troy Patton, who quickly got ahead, 1-2. Morales popped out to second to end the threat.
Jim Johnson came on and worked an uneventful ninth, getting a tough threesome: Trumbo, Alberto Callaspo, and Howie Kendrick. It was Johnson’s 26th save in 27 chances.
Game three of the series features a pair of aces. Jason Hammel (8-4, 3.43) faces Jered Weaver (9-1, 2.13). First pitch is scheduled for 10:05.
- Gonzalez joined Chris Tillman as the newest members of the starting rotation, each making their first start of the season this week. It won’t be the last for either of the two. Combined, Gonzalez and Tillman went 15.1 innings this week, giving up just 1 earned run (0.59 ERA) on 5 hits, 4 walks, and 13 strikeouts.
- Pearce is hitting .363 with 2 HR and 4RBIs against the Angels this year.
- Troy Patton’s appearance, though only 4 pitches long, was totally clutch.
- The birds botched one huge opportunity that could have come back to bite them late in the game. Adam Jones led off the top of the ninth with a double, and never moved another inch. Matt Wieters popped out, and Betemit and Reynolds both struck out.
- Although he retired the first two batters he faced, O’Day struggled for the third time in his last four outings.
- There is apparently a new Orioles-killer. 20-year old Mike Trout had been kept in check Friday night, until his eighth inning homer against O’Day. He has hit safely in all 4 games the two teams have played, going 8/17 (.471), with a walk, a double, a home run, 4 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. And don’t forget about the amazing catch he made last month at Camden Yards, taking a home run away from JJ Hardy. Trout is an incredible talent to watch, but one O’s fans are glad they don’t have to watch against their team too often.